Friday, 7 January 2011

The Expendables

Lowdown: A group of has been mercenaries fights to liberate a small island.
Could I resist The Expendables, an action film loaded with a cast featuring names such as Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger? No, I couldn't. True, none of these names are noteworthy because of their acting skills, and the likes of Lundgren are only noteworthy because of the comedy factor of past performances (e.g., Rocky 4). Reminiscing, though, has a lot going for it.
Sadly, names are the only factor that's going in favor of The Expendables. In any other way this is a pathetic effort, starting from the plot. Indeed, the plot has all the sophistication of a Call of Duty video game, including characters as full of depth as a small drop of water on a concrete floor. Our group of heroes (led by Stallone, who wrote the script and directed this flick) is a group of old mercenaries very good at what they're doing despite their advanced age; and let's face it, between Stallone, Lundgren and Rourke there's a lot of plastic around. They get a job at a small island ruled by an evil dictator, where Stallone gets involved with this pretty girl. Things become personal for him so he goes back to liberate the island, Rambo style, but his mates won't leave him alone and we're all in for an action party. There is, indeed, a lot in common between The Expendables and Rambo: they share a director, they share motifs, and they both suck. Obviously, Stallone is stuck in limbo as he repeats the same old crap we grew out of thirty years ago again and again.
Between all the famous action heroes here, including perhaps the biggest names ever (and let's not forget the Planet Hollywood reunion), Statham is the only one delivering a credible performance. The rest look like they didn't wake up in time for the shoot. Director Stallone, for whom this was probably a make or break film, is the worst offender: it is rare for me to be able to point at a major release and be able to confidently claim it was badly directed, but The Expendables gives me all the leeway I ever needed in order to make such a claim. It is badly edited, and worst - the action scenes are very badly choreographed. Perhaps because our band of geezers is no longer action capable, all the action scenes are an unintelligible mess of fast camera movement and ultra fast editing; there is no way to understand what is taking place with them other than guess at their hectic nature. Now, given the abundance of these action scenes and the fact that duration wise they consume a lot of the film, I ended up feeling bored: for minutes on end things took place without me being able to figure out exactly what's taking place. It was a case of "please, wake me up when the killing is over", only that things are so shallow there is nothing worth waking up for.
You know what the worst thing about The Expendables is, though? The one liners when a goodie kills a baddie are just so bad. Who wrote the script? Ah, it was Stallone.
"Best" scene: Dolph Lundgren repents betraying his team of Expendables. Because in this scene, you see him close up, and he just looks scary - all those attempts to make him look young make him look more like a Frankenstein.
Technical assessment: The picture on this Blu-ray is good but colors are inaccurate; the sound is good for a modern day action flick but nothing too special.
Overall: A big waste of big stars' names, a big waste of our time. Totally expendable indeed! 2 out of 5 stars.

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